A list of Principal images

Here’s table which describing principal images and the founders of each Buddhism schools.
Japanese people enshrine them to Butsudan (Buddhism altar).

Principal images and the founders of each schools

Vajrayana & MahayanaMahayana
Shingon BuddhismTendai BuddhismJodo & Jodo ShinshuZen (Rinzai / Soto)Nichiren Buddhsim
(a.k.a. Kobo Daishi)
(a.k.a. Dengyo Daishi)
Hounen (Jodo)

Shinran (Jodo Shinshu)
Eisai / Yousai (Rinzai)

Dougen (Soto)
Dainichi Nyorai

Fudo Myo-oh
Not specifiedAmida NyoraiRinzai : Not specified

Soto : Shaka Nyorai
Hokekyo (the Lotus Sutra)


Daikoku Ten
Above : founder
Below : principal Image

Principal 13 Buddha(s) is Japanese origin idea. They are described on one scroll. It is used at Shingon Buddhism funeral, mainly.
On the other hand, it have nothing to do with Jodo and Jodo Shinshu.

Omamori Honzon is Buddha & Bodhisattva to guard your whole life.
There are 12 patterns depending on birth year of 12 zodiacal signs (it have nothing to do with Jodo and Jodo Shinshu).
About details, please take a look here.

Principal 13 Buddha(s) & Omamori Honzon 8 Buddha(s) of 12 zodiacal signs

Principal 13 Buddha(s)
Kokuzo BosatsuMonju BosatsuFugen BosatsuSeishi BosatsuDainichi NyoraiFudoh Myo-ohAmida NyoraiShaka NyoraiAshuku NyoraiJizou BosatsuMiroku BosatsuYakushi NyoraiKannon Bosatsu
Omamori Honzon 8 Buddha(s) of 12 zodiacal signs
Senju KannonKokuzo Bosatsu
Monju BosatsuFugen BosatsuSeishi BosatsuDainichi NyoraiFudoh Myo-ohAmida Nyorai
Ne (Rat)Ushi (Ox)

Tora (Tiger)
U (Rabbit)Tatsu (Dragon)

Mi (Snake)
Uma (Horse)Saru (Monkey)

Hitsuji (Sheep)
Tori (Rooster)Inu (Dog)

I (Pig / Wild boar)

Honji-Suijaku thought (Buddhism and Shinto)

In Japan, there was a concept called Honji-Suijaku.
This concept explains that “Many Japanese traditional Gods and Goddesses are incarnations of Buddha.
* Since Meiji era, Shinto and Buddhism are separated. But many people visit both shrines and temples.

In this case, Buddhism icons are called Gongen in Japanese.
Gongen is quite Japan origin Buddhism image. Gon means temporarily. Gen means appearance.
Gongen means “temporary manifestation by a Buddha (in order to save people) manifested form of Shinto deities” (incarnation of Japanese God).
That’s ancient Japanese sapience to avoid religious conflicts between Shinto and Buddhism.
In fact, Jikkai Mandala of Nichiren Buddhism is including Japanese deities such as Amaterasu-Omikami from Japanese myth.
About Gongen, Their figures have not regular style. Some styles exist depending on regions.

Therefore, Japanese people can believe in both religions.

Representative examples are;
Akiba Gongen, Iizuna Gongen, Zaou Gongen, Konpira Gongen, Kumano Gongen, Sannoh Gongen (Hie), Atago Gongen and Hachiman Shin.

Akiba Gongen
Iizuna Gongen
(both are the same figure)
Zaou Gongen
Konpira Gongen
Sannoh GongenUnknown
Kumano Gongen
Hachiman Shin
(In many cases, Hachiman is Buddhist monk looks.)
Atago Gongen

Shinto is Japan origin religion.
Shinto have no founder, no book like a sutra or a bible and no dogma.
It’s just simple polytheism of nature worship. It says any deities dwell to any things.

On the other hand, Buddhism have founder (Gautama Siddhartha), many sutras and dogma.

Honji-Suijaku thought is one of concept which unite both religions.
This idea itself is not Japan origin. It appeared in China and India also before Japan.
These Buddhism deities who brought from other religions are called “Goho-Zenjin (Dharmapala)”.
Their main roles are to guard Buddhism teachings from evils.

Here is a representative example of correspondence table between Buddhism and Shinto .

Gongen - Buddha table

Amaterasu Omikami
(The main Goddess of Japanese myth)
Dainichi Nyorai, Juhichimen Kannon
Hachiman ShinAmida Nyorai
Kumano GongenAmida Nyorai
Sannoh Gongen (Hie)Dainichi Nyorai
Atago Gongen(Shogun) Jizou Bosatsu
War god-like Jizou
Akiba GongenKannon Bosatsu
Iizuna GongenDainichi Nyorai
Konpira GongenFudoh Myo-oh
Zaou GongenBuddhism icon who were mixed with Shaka Nyorai, Senju Kannon and Miroku Bosatsu

Japanese considerations of death and life (4)

Jodo school and Jodo Shinshu school are having different interpretation on the consideration of death and life.

Basically, there are no six world in their ideas.
There is only Jodo (Pure Land). After death in this world, go to Jodo and live again at Jodo.

Buddhism teachings ask for spending self-restraining days to us.
But nobody can do that (even monks). Which means nobody can get nirvana.

Amida Nyorai (Amitabha) knows that.
He had lead an ascetic life to take us to Jodo and to save us at Bodhisattva years.
I mean, everybody can go to Jodo.

“Namu Amida Butsu” is the words of thanks to Amida Nyorai (Not magic words, charm).

In Jodo, we will be taught and practice asceticism under Amida Nyorai’s instruction.
And we will be Buddha at there, the Buddha(s) will go back to this world to save people.

This picture is called “Niga Byakudo (two rivers and white path)”. It’s popular story on Jodo School.

Left side is flame river. It stands for anger and hatred.
Right side is flooded river. It stands for desire and persistence.
People (dead people) are walking on the narrow white path as resisting temptation.
Shaka Nyorai (Gautama Siddhartha) calls out from behind “Don’t be afraid, I watch over you”.
Amida Nyorai (Amitabha) calls out from front “Come on!, I surely save you”.
Thus, everyone can go to Jodo.

Anyway, there is no ghost and ghostlike thing in Buddhism teaching.

Japanese considerations of death and life (3)

Every dead person can be reborn in any case (I heard that way of life is affected by the sin or karma of the former world. But we can be a rich or a poor depending on own effort.). Anyway, maybe you and me were friend in the former world.
This idea is called En (Yen).

This coin is Japanese 5 yen.
Pronunciation of ‘5 yen’ is ‘go en’ in Japanese.
‘go yen’ is a homophone with go-en, a word for karma, fate, relation and encounter.
As a result, sometimes this coin is used as a token of meeting.

Japanese have words, “Sode Fure Au mo Tasho no En”.
Meaning :
Even if relationship of only touching clothes between each other, it was related to something each other in the former world.

We also have “Ichigo Ichie”
Meaning :
Meeting in this world is maybe the first and the last, so we have to make much of the meeting.

You may meet your family and your partner at the next world. Your pet may become your friend as human being at the next world.
(I feel that Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo child is influenced by the transmigration of the soul. He said that “If I don’t meet you no more in this world, then I’ll meet ya on the next one. Don’t be late.” I wonder Jimi’s mother-in-law is a Japanese-American???)

Japanese people are delighted with non memory meeting at the former world, sharing suffering at this world, and they die as having wishes to meet at the next world. Of cource, the best thing is no rebirth as Buddhism ideas.

The areas that staying the thought of the transmigration of the soul strongly are Tibet and Japan.

By the way, Jodo school and Jodo Shinshu school are having different interpretation.
In next content, I will write about that.

Japanese considerations of death and life (2)

Rikudo of Buddhism is an idea based on the transmigration of the soul, it’s six worlds in which dead person is reborn next. These worlds are considered as parallel exist.

But we shouldn’t rebirth.
Essential teachings of Buddhism are “to live is to experience many sufferings”.
I mean, “Not to rebirth after death” is the most happiest thing. It’s called GEDATSU, it means “leave from the transmigration of the soul”.
Because only “No rebirth” can avoid from sufferings.

The six worlds are:
Ten-do, Ningen-do, Shura-do, Chikusho-do, Gaki-do and Jigoku-do.

Dead person is put on trial by Enma Daioh. He indicates to let dead person go to one of six worlds based on past actions, or Gedatsu.
(If Enma judged that “needless to rebirth (Gedatsu)”, dead person goes to Gokuraku Jodo. I mean, he/she enters Nirvana (become a Buddha). )

1. Ten-do
is fortunate world that sufferings are smaller than human being.

2. Ningen-do
Ningen means human being. That is Ningen-do is the world of human being. There is many sufferings in this world, but sometimes they can feel happy.

3. Shura-do
is the world of endless conflict, struggle, quarrel. And here are many sufferings and rage. But all causes are due to oneself. That’s why they suffer more.

4. Chikusho-do
is the world of animals. Because of they live by instinct only, they can’t understand the teaching of Buddha by themselves. That’s why it’s the world of a less salvation

5. Gaki-do
is the world of starvation and thirst. If they ate something, they would be in flames. It’s said that the world that a person who didn’t feel for others goes to.

6. Jigoku-do
is the world that an evil persons goes to. That is to say, it’s the hell. The first of all, for the purpose that it doesn’t make them retort, Enma Daioh removes their tongue. And they are sent to the hell. They can’t speak words, all they can do is screaming.

There are ONI who are a horrible watch of the hell. Evil persons have to accept severe punishment from ONI. For example, swimming at blood sea, climbing to needle mountain, sleeping on hot plate, dragging by car and so on.
They need to endure a long long time. At last Enma Daioh permits them to be reborn.

Next :
About words from the transmigration of the soul.


Japanese considerations of death and life (1)

The main current religions of Japan are Shinto and Buddhism.
Both religions have long history, almost parts of thought have been mixed.
Some years ago, the movie, “Departures” won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
This film expressed Japanese consideration of death and life.

Approx. 90% of Japanese are Buddhist.
In Japanese Buddhism, the bereaved family give the white clothes to dead person and give Rokumonsen. (white clothes is called Shinishozoku which means clothes for dead person, Rokumonsen means six coins).

And it make him/her put into coffin, and cremate it.

This costume is traveler’s in Edo period. white version is for dead person only.
Dead person travels from this world to the world after death.

Attention when you put KIMONO on.
Don’t wear left side cloth on your body. It’s called HIDARIMAE, this way of wear is dead person only.

There is Sanzu river that flows at border between this world and the world after death.
Dead person goes across Sanzu river by ship.
As it needs Rokumonsen to ride on the ship, dead person pays Rokumonsen at there.
An old woman who is called Datsueba exists at riverbank, she takes the clothes instead of Rokumonsen from dead person who has not the coins.

After crossing the river, dead person is put on trial by Enma Daioh at seven times every seven days.
Enma Daioh judges based on Enma-Cho (Enma’s note) that is writing all actions of dead person.

Dead person gets conclusion after 49 days (the bereaved family put bones into graves after 49 days of his/her death)

Next :
About Rikudo (six world) that Enma Daioh gives to dead person.

The center of Manga, electrical appliances, video games, Akihabara’s history.

This photo is in front of Akihabara station in Tokyo. Akihabara is always crowded.
This town is famous city for Manga, electrical appliances, video games.
But the name of Akihabara is related with Buddhism.

Akihabara can divide Akiha (Akiba) and Bara (Hara).
Akiha is one of the Deity’s name, and Hara means field.

In 17th century, Tokugawa Ieyasu was appointed to SHOGUN.
And he brought Akiba Daigongen shrine from his hometown to here.
People called this place Akihabara since this event.

Akiba Daigongen is one of the Deity. Akiba Daigongen looks like Tengu (who has black crows’ wings). And he rides on fox.

He is in charge of fire prevention.
In Edo period in Japan, the fire often brought tragedy, because traditionally wooden buildings are many. So, Shogun brought Akiba Daigongen from his hometown.
For that reason, Akiba daigongen was believed by successive Shogun.

*…Akiba Daigongen and Izuna Daigongen are the same looks.

If you watched dragon, look at finger.

Dragon (snake shape) is imaginary animal in East Asia.

Dragon was the symbol of Chinese Emperor, it never allowed using this design by others including nations around China.
That is to say, China was the center for all things.

Accordingly, the Emperors of nations around China were sensitive to this, they settled that reducing the number of claws.
China : five claws (five fingers).
Korea : four claws (four fingers).
Japan : three claws (three fingers).

Of course, it have nothing to do with that at present, because Chinese Emperor had gone. (This tradition a little remains now.)

Elephant is the sign of happiness.

As Hinduism and Buddhism were born in India, a part of idols are objects of belief by both believers.

Following image is one of them.
It’s called Ganesha by Hinduism. Or it’s called Kangi-Ten by Buddhism.

(Elephant head and human body.)

I went to Matsuchiyama Shoden temple.

In Buddhism, he is the symbol of happy married life, blessed with children, well-being of one’s family and a brisk business.

His emblem is the crossed two radishes like a thigh shape.
I mean, happy married life means… Do you know what I mean?:)
But wishing having children is important problem as wife and husband.

(at Matsuchiyama-Shoden temple in Asakusa, Tokyo)

As a result, they will be blessed with children and well-being of their family. If they had wonderful life, they would work hard (a brisk business).
For that reason, he is the sign (symbol) of happiness.

But, as his character is a little sexual one, almost temples are not opening him to the public.

By the way, there is special sweets for Kangi-ten. It’s called Seijoh-Kangi-Dan. It’s the oldest sweets in Japan.
The only one Japanese sweets shop is making this sweets in Kyoto!!

I’ve ever eaten this. It’s good taste!